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Titus Letter Analysis

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By softballgal111
Words 1741
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I am going to analyze the book of Titus found in the New Testament under the assumption that the author is a Christian who is not Paul and is writing about 75 years after Paul’s death. Throughout this letter analysis, I am going to cover four broad categories; who the intended audience for this letter was, who the author actually was, why the author chose to write this letter pseudepigraphically, and how the community might have responded to this letter.
The text is addressed to Titus, but if this letter was written 75 years after Paul’s death, it can be deduced that this letter was written after Titus’ death as well. The community that received this letter was probably the same people of which the author was a part of, giving the author reason to write it. It is hard to say how the community discovered this letter because there are a variety of ways it could have happened. I feel the two most likely options were either that the author claimed he found a lost Pauline letter and presented it to the community or that the letter was mistakenly found by a member of the community.
No matter how the letter was discovered, it is clear that the intended audience was facing many issues, including the qualifications to be an elder. The author writes on this issue in 1:6-9, providing the qualifications that one must have in order to be appointed an elder. The list includes living a blameless life, being a faithful husband, not being a heavy drinker, and many more.
It also seems that this community is divided on the issue of circumcision. The author indicates that he is against circumcision in 1:10; “For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true for those who insist on circumcision for salvation.” It is evident that there is one group pushing for circumcision and another group unsure of what to do. This struggle is probably why the author addresses the situation to in an attempt to clear things up. Another major topic the author covers is found in 3:1-2, the problematic relationship between a society and its government. The text reads:
Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.

The way I read this text, the author is addressing two issues within the subject of government. First, he is urging citizens to submit to the government and its officials. Second, he is giving a list of ways government officers should act in order to facilitate citizens’ obedience. On this particular issue, it does not seem as though the author is taking a “side” in the situation, he is simply addressing it. Another prominent topic in this society is the issue over which Jewish laws the Christian community should follow. The author tackles this subject in 3:9 saying, “Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time.” This pseudepigraphical author also writes on the role of men and women in this society. In 2:2 there is a brief list of requirements for men, “Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.” Whereas 2:3-5 holds a much lengthier list of requirements for women:
Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.

It is possible that the people living around the author were having a hard time following commands given by Paul in his earlier letters. This could justify why the author felt the need to re-state these guidelines, while also adding to the list of qualities an individual should possess. The text gives many obvious clues as to what problems this community was facing and it also gives hints about who the author was. One thing that can be deduced is that the author was an educated male. During the time that this letter was written, most women were not well educated, so it would not make sense for this letter to have a female author. We can also conclude that the author had access to Pauline letters in order to imitate them in this letter addressed to Titus.
The author must have also been knowledgeable in the history of Paul and his companions, or had access to documents specifying where certain people were at certain times. For example, in 1:5, the author indicates that Paul left Titus in Crete to work there. It would have been necessary for the author to learn this in some way because it is unlikely that was common knowledge in their community. If this statement about Titus being in Crete is not true, it is possible that the author was writing for the community in Crete or a surrounding area. Therefore, if this letter mentioned Titus was in Crete, it would be logical to find this letter in that area. This would make the letter seem more authentic and realistic for it to suddenly appear well after Paul’s death.
There are many questions as to why this author felt the need to write this letter under Paul’s name instead of his own. The author could have used Paul’s name in order to avoid ridicule for the words within the letter. For example, if the letter was intended for the community of Crete, they might be a little upset with what is said in 1:12b-13, “’The people of Crete are all liars, cruel animals, and lazy gluttons.’ This is true. So reprimand them sternly to make them strong in the faith.”
Another benefit the author might have had from writing in the name of Paul was authority, something he would not have had if writing in his own name. By the time this letter was read, Paul had been dead for about 75 years. Even though he was long dead, it is apparent that the community still found authority in Paul’s letters, or this more contemporary author would not have bothered writing in Paul’s name.
An additional benefit to using Paul as a pen name might have been to discuss issues that Paul did not talk about much in his surviving letters. An example of this is the subject of slavery, which is mentioned in 2:9-10:
Slaves must always obey their masters and do their best to please them. They must not talk back or steal, but must show themselves to be entirely trustworthy and good. Then they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive in every way.

It is possible that this was a response to what is briefly said in Philemon about slavery. From the author’s perspective, he might have thought this was a way to clear things up from the viewpoint that he believes is right.
Another question to ponder is why the author addressed this text to Titus. The author’s reasoning for doing so may have been to make the letter seem more authentic because we know from other Pauline letters that Paul and Titus were close. It also may have been to make the letter even more authoritative. The author writes in 2:15, “’You must teach these things and encourage believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.” This implies that Titus was a leader among the early Christian church along with Paul. So, by writing in the pen name of Paul and addressing it to Titus, the community had even more of a reason to abide by the rules and commands outlined in the text.
The community may have responded to the letter in any number of ways when they received it. They may have known right away that it was not written by Paul, they may have thought it was 100% Pauline, or the community may have been divided on its authenticity. If the community did believe the letter was Pauline, it would be understandable because the author did a good job of imitating Paul’s writing style.
The opening of this letter, when compared to letters written by Paul, is very similar. 1:1 reads, “This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ.” The opening to Romans is, “This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.” Similar openings are also found in Philippians, 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. Since this imitation style is present throughout a large portion of the letter, it would make sense why a community would think it was sincerely from Paul.
Since this letter is in the Bible and has lasted through centuries, I believe the majority of the community found this letter to be Pauline and authoritative. Texts found in the Bible were re-written by people over and over throughout the years so that the text would survive. If this community did not find this letter addressed to Titus influential and trustworthy, they would not have wasted their time copying it throughout the years and we would likely not have it today.
Even though this letter was written pseudepigraphically, I still believe it has some relevance in contemporary Christian communities. From a faith standpoint, this letter was placed into the Bible for a reason. It may not have been authentically from Paul, but there are some good points (and some points that I may not necessarily agree with) made in this letter. I think each individual has to decide what he or she believes to be true in everything that they read, this letter included.

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